I said I would run every day until the virus was gone…
Before the virus, I only ran about 25 miles a week, and I was proud of that. I look back at it now, and it seems like such a minor accomplishment. 25 miles was something to strive for, and if I had a particularly great week and could hit 30, man, I was living.
After 118 days, I acquired a small injury, and I took a rest. I didn’t become injured from overuse, but rather, a significant shift in structure, diet, and mental agility. I allowed myself to fall out of my peak state when entering a less than desirable environment.
It was the mental disruption that truly drug my performance into ruin, and I have since learned, recovered, and resumed the streak, presuming it will end only when the virus is gone.
What makes this attainable is one honest truth- that running is mental, and if you can climb over the wall of your last limiting belief, everything in the world is possible.
Your mind is the only thing that limits you from your success to push past the maximum distance and speed you felt you had to abide by within the confines of your alleged ability. If you’ve ever said to person “I can’t run more than ‘x’ miles,” then that is precisely why you can’t.
Your body can do exactly what your mind tells it to. If your mind tells your body that you can run 70 miles a week, you can run 70 miles a week. If your mind tells your body you can run 130 miles a week, you absolutely can run that much. Ultra runners do it consistently.
Conversely, if you know “you get tired after four miles,” you absolutely do.
For me, high milage and lack of rest was never an impossibility. It was the origin of the Coronavirus that urged me to make the boldest statement of “I can do this for as long as the virus exists,” and surely, I believed myself.
Before the streak, I only ever ran five or six days in a row. I never thought that I could run any more than that.
Actually, even when I got hurt, (which was just a minor muscle strain that only took a few weeks to heal fully,) I had to use much of the same mental training to get myself back to running consistently. There’s an element of doubt that manifests when you get hurt, and your brain sometimes falls victim to that doubt, even when you know you are fully recovered.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I had to give myself a lot of running pep talks. Every day, I would run through empty streets, often in crappy weather, telling myself exactly how I was going to conquer the world that morning.
“Today, you’ll do five. No. Make it eight. You’re a God among men. Move your body, you crazy motherfucker.”
It sounds insane, but you believe the stories you tell yourself.
Another thing I do, besides the constant encouragement I give myself, is I allow my mind the permission to run free.
I never listen to music. My thoughts are my power, scrolling on an internal marquee in the backdrop of my mind.
A friend of mine asked me last year “what do you think about when you run?”
I said “I think about what’s going wrong in my life… and how I’m going to fix it.” Most days, this is the main introspection.
Some days, I think of my family, and how I wish for their happiness.
Some days, I look at the impressive structures around me and wonder “ how did I get so fortunate to be submerged in an environment that is such a testament to the true power of man? For man created all of this; created it before we had access to all of the inventory of information in existence in our hands.”
There is nothing like the thrill of reaching the apex of a mighty suspension bridge, looking at every rivet, knowing that human beings envisioned and created it, and are an infinite source of power.
I would think, with each inch of the climb, about our bodies, the muscular iron, and the fragility of them all the same.
I’d think about sex and intimacy, and the way I wanted to express myself sexually with people I’d never dare tell about it.
I thought about that a lot. All the time.
I’d think about love, and the way love grows inside of us, making us limitless, fusing our connections, bound tightly like the rivets in the steel of the bridge as I felt it shake under my feet with the passage of a barreling train.
I’d think about hate, often with regret, because every time I thought of hate, something would start hurting, as if my brain wanted to remind me that there was no place for those sorts of thoughts in the space of the morning run.
I’d think of the way I way I wanted to light a fire, and burn within it the image everyone who has ever wronged me. Then, I’d hit a stretch of endorphins, and for the next two miles, I’d think about how beautiful the water was that day, and how sacred freedom is.
I’d think about how much I cherished my health, my city, and all human life, and then seemingly it was easy to part with the hate and resentment. Instead of images burning, they just washed away.
I love to let my mind run. The best way to go far is to go without desiring a distance; to know there is no end, no limit. There’s no way to cease the passion, because the passion for life is what fuels us.
I hear from runners all the time “I don’t like my own thoughts.”
That’s why a lot of people need to run with a friend, or with music, or a podcast- anything to drown out the barrage.
If you don’t like your thoughts, you won’t be able to live without limits. Your thoughts are what create what you know as physical restrictions, and you’re responsible for harnessing them; modifying them.
The more I have to think about, the further I can carry myself, lightening the load with each step. The more I believe about my capabilities, the stronger I find my body, and the more I see myself being able to overcome obstacles.
Your thoughts are the most important part of your ability to progress. Rid yourself of your baggage, and then convince yourself you are a machine.
Your body is capable, but it needs the OK from your brain- the grand master, the creator, the God among men.